“One Eyed Jack” is a hard-boiled crime fiction set in the modern day South Bay area of Los Angeles, California. It follows the adventures of professional extortionist John Sharp, AKA “One Eyed Jack.” He’s a man in the business of keeping secrets, and can keep any for the right price.
But when a routine case of infidelity takes a bizarre turn, he soon finds himself caught up in a tangled web of double-blackmail, commodity manipulation, and trying to rescue the woman who had once been his target.
How long had the idea for the book been developing before you began to write the story?
The novel “One Eyed Jack” actually had its genesis in a short story that I wrote several years ago. The original title of the s/s was “The Squeeze,” but I changed it to “One Eyed Jack” later on. Along the way, I fell victim to a common malady among writers (I fell in love with my own character) and decided to develop it into a full-length novel. BTW: The short story “One Eyed Jack” is available on Amazon as an e-book and tells the story of how our main character earned his moniker.
How much of yourself is hidden in the characters of the book?
I think any writer would be lying if they said that none of themselves was grafted into their characters. One Eyed Jack likes to bicycle, as I do, and some of his sarcastic remarks and metaphors are definitely hijacked from my own speech. As far as the extortionist aspect of the story, I think we all have a bit of voyeur in us – and we definitely enjoy learning about other peoples secret lives and foibles. If that weren’t the case, the racks at the supermarket checkout line would be empty.
Tell us about your main characters. Who was your favorite and why?
It’s a funny thing. Being a male and having a lot of myself in “One Eyed Jack”, I found that even though I had built the novel about him from the short story, Marion Holtzinger ended up being my favorite. She was Jack’s original target from the infidelity case, but along the way they end up working together to defeat a common foe. Jack gets her to leave her comfort zone and she really grows up fast in the novel, and I really respect her for that. Bill Batty, the main antagonist is just an arrogant bastard that you just want to reach into the pages and strangle.
When were you first published? How were you discovered?
I’ve spent a lot of time doing non-fiction work for newspapers and magazines. I wasn’t published until I realized that something really had to interest me in order for me to write about it with any honesty and vigor. If I’m excited and passionate about the subject, I find that it comes through in my writing. I’ve written on a variety of subjects from the first man to survive a super-sonic bailout, to profile pieces on persons that I really found interesting, to animals that were abandoned due to the sub-prime mortgage debacle and real estate market collapse.
I’m also an avid mountaineer and once trained and led a group of nine blind hikers to the summit of 10,064-ft. Mount Baldy, the highest point in Los Angeles County and the third highest point in Southern California. One of the women who did the climb had lost her sight from Arthritis. She was so inspiring to me, that I wrote an article about her for ARTHRITIS TODAY MAGAZINE. The climb is also the subject of a documentary film, and you can view a trailer for it at: http://www.baldyfortheblind.com
How have you marketed and promoted your work?
As your readers are probably aware, it’s an extremely crowded marketplace right now and just about anyone with a pulse can be published on-line. When people ask me about the self-publishing route I took for my book, I like to quip that the good news is it’s all about you. And the bad news is, it’s all about you – and you have to make yourself stand out. Besides doing the standard social network stuff like FB, I also have a website with a growing list of subscribers. http://www.christopherjlynch.com. I also do personal appearances at bookstores and for reading groups.
Besides my own website, I also purchased the domain name for a website that “One Eyed Jack” uses in the story: http://www.yoursecretsaresafe.com If readers go to the site, or click on it from the e-book, there’s a little surprise waiting for them, along with some insights into the modus operandi of “One Eyed Jack.”
But what has really set me apart from the competition is the video trailer I produced for the book. Rather than the mundane “Slide-Show” that I’ve seen with so many other books, I went whole hog and had a professional filmmaker do a full blown vignette of the first chapter of my book. I was the producer, as well as the director, and of course, the writer. I also played Jack, which takes us back to that previous question about part of me being in the characters.
It was a ton of work, but like writing, completely enjoyable. I had to scout locations, rent equipment, audition actors for the other parts, and I even did the voice over. Your readers can view the trailer at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvraVL8dMY0
What challenges did you face when you wrote this book?
Besides the wringer of the self-publishing/promotion route, I also struggled quite a bit with the idea of an unsympathetic protagonist. I found myself constantly asking myself if people could warm up to him or not. But I also didn’t want to write the standard overworked PI, or disgruntled ex-cop type of crime story and not be honest with myself. As I stated before, if something excites or interests me, then it comes through in my writing and excites and interests my readers as well. Also, the success of shows like “Breaking-Bad” and “Dexter” have shown a shift in public opinion and a greater tolerance for the flawed or dubious protagonist. Gone are the days of the “squeaky-clean” hero.
What writer influenced you the most?
I would have to say that beyond a doubt it was the late Lawrence Sanders. He wrote the “Deadly Sin” series, the “Commandment” series, and the “McNally” series. I don’t think anyone could convey so succinctly a description of a place, person or thing. He could do in just a few choice words what most of us would struggle through in a couple of paragraphs. When you got through reading one of his descriptions, you immediately felt like you could imagine the person or the setting perfectly. I used to keep one of his books with me when I wrote and used it to “get into the groove” of his style before I started landing my own prose on the page. He was one of our greatest writers, and I miss that I can no longer look forward to his novels.
What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
Write, write, write!! Don’t talk about writing, don’t read books on writing, don’t wait for someone else or a group to “inspire” you to write…just write dammit! And while you’re at it, submit, submit, submit! Don’t shy away from submitting to contests, publishers, editors, etc. You have to do this or no one will ever know you exist.
The only other thing I would say is to stay true to your writing and what you want to write about. YA and Middle Grade is all the rage now, but if it’s not your genre, don’t write it. You won’t be honest with yourself and it will come through in your writing.
Do your characters ever take on a life of their own?
Whooo! If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be very good characters would they? It’s a lot like herding cats. I’ve had many of them ”run off with the story.” When this happens, I usually try to understand why they are doing this; am I missing some interesting dimension of them that could be profitable? About half the time this is true. The rest of the time I have to call them home and remind them that “No, they cannot say that piece of dialogue, or go off in that direction.” And when they ask why, I give them the complex, long-winded answer parents have been giving for thousands of years: “Because I said so.”
What are you working on right now?
Besides promoting “One Eyed Jack,” I’m trying to complete a children’s picture book that I wrote and had illustrated: Wally the Water Drop in “I am Also a Cloud and a Snow Flake.”
I know, it sounds crazy, the writer of a gritty crime novel doing a children’s book? Well, like I said, it’s something that interests me and I’m passionate about it, so I’m going to write about it.
I also will be starting work on the next “One Eyed Jack” novel. This one is titled, “Russian Roulette” and picks up where the first novel left off.
Where can people learn more about your books?
My website: http://www.christopherjlynch.com
My Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B006IB48IU